News: CLB-7: 1st Logistics unit to go through Infantry Immersion Trainer
Story by Sgt. Whitney N. Frasier
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Every Marine is a rifleman. Now every Marine may have the chance to train like infantry regardless of their primary military occupation. Combat Logistics Battalion 7, Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, were the first logistical unit to complete the Infantry Immersion Trainer here, Dec. 5-Dec. 8.
The IIT, designed specifically for infantry Marines, is a training course developed to mimic the atmosphere of Afghanistan. Old cement buildings stood tall, schools and small medical facilities were scattered about, a farmer’s market and a mosque were in close distance, lots of sand and debris covered the ground and most importantly, there was a human element present.
“I think it’s hard to really train without the function of role players,” said Capt. Joshua Wells, company commander, Alpha Company, CLB-7, CLR-1, 1st MLG. “This is really beneficial when preparing Marines to properly deal with the local civilians and [Afghanistan National Police].”
During the training evolution, members were presented with five separate scenarios they may face when overseas. These scenarios included supply drops with key leaders, improvised explosive devices and vehicle borne IED training, local national engagements, how to respond to hostile action, taking initiative on the battlefield and accurately gathering intelligence.
“The [human element] is a dimension that we haven’t received,” said Wells, 34, from Hendersonville, N.C. “It’s definitely a different angle on some of the same training we are use to when you bring in [locals].”
Interacting with local nationals during routine and urgent operations prior to deploying will give Marines an advantage to hit the ground running. The distraction civilians can cause during maneuvers and working to complete a mission can sometimes be deemed difficult, but continuing to be respectful of the population and their beliefs in a training environment will build the patience Marines may need during future encounters.
“This training area is [fairly] realistic to Afghanistan,” said Bahram Sarwary, a role player for the IIT who is originally from Afghanistan. “We have the same type of stores, buildings, explosions and insurgents.”
Sarwary explained in detail the common factors of the training area compared to Afghanistan, such as the crowding of the locals around military vehicles or the significance of dropping everything at hand to make their way to the town mosque for prayer.
“The way we see it is that most of the Marines have no clue or idea about our culture,” said Sarwary. “The stuff we do in here opens their eyes about how to deal with us and our religion. This is the best training for them. It can save not only their lives, but civilian lives too.”
If everything during the training evolution went well and as planned, CLB-7 may have opened the door of opportunity for other logistics units to participate in the valuable guidance that can be received from the instructors and role players at IIT, making the training mandatory for combat support units.
“Even the most well trained units will have challenges coming through this course, but each maneuver has been better than the last,” said Wells. “I have seen a lot of improvement from them.”